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Cuba Giving Pope Francis the Rock Star Treatment; Interview with U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; U.S. Troops Forced To Overlook Child Rape?; Mother, Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 21, 2015 - 16:30   ET



PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pope has now traveled from one end of Cuba to the other. And his trip has more than exceeded expectations.


OPPMANN (voice-over): There's no way around it. Cuba is giving Pope Francis the rock star treatment.

"What a cool pope," chanted these young Cubans in Havana, certainly much cooler than the weather. Even Cuba's scorching September sun couldn't prevent huge crowds from gathering to greet Pope Francis. Vatican officials said the pope's Havana mass drew some 200,000 people, something Cuban officials, perhaps wary of Francis' star power, have not confirmed.

His was a rare message of inclusiveness in a country that demands political conformity.

"And you Cubans, even if you think differently, have different perspectives," he says. "I want you to walk together so you don't lose hope."

Hope can be a luxury in Cuba, a country that was for nearly three decades officially atheist and where many Catholics faced religious discrimination. Francis took a few subtle jabs at the socialism or debt mentality of the communist-run government.

"Service is never ideological," he says, "for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."

Observers say Pope Francis is looking not to bring the revolution down, just curb its repressive excesses.

AUSTEN IVEREIGH, POPE FRANCIS BIOGRAPHER: Not just as a young man, as a young Jesuit, of course he was deeply impacted by the Cuban Revolution. That whole generation was. And he was deeply disappointed when Cuba went communist. And I must wonder whether Francis is now, as you like, reminding Raul about something of what the revolution originally was, before it went Marxist. OPPMANN: And Pope Francis even met Raul Castro's brother, the father

of Marxism in Cuba, Fidel Castro. The pope met the ailing former comandante at his own near Havana.

Cuban state TV showed rare images of Castro's children and wife, who apparently didn't know that wearing white when meeting the pope is a right reserved for the queens of Catholic countries. The pope leaves Cuba on Tuesday to head to Washington, D.C.


OPPMANN: And, Jake, the trip has not gone entirely without incident. CNN was nearby when several dissidents tried to meet the pope and hand him anti-government pamphlets. They were arrested before that could happen.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much.

With me now, Kenneth Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for being here.

The pope is known -- he is known as the people's pope. And since emerging from the conclave two years ago, he's taken positions that have rattled many conservative Catholics having to do with reserving judgment of gay Catholics, suggesting some support for civil unions, reforming the marriage annulment process. The goal, some say, is to attract younger generations of Catholics and bring them into the fold. Is it working?

KENNETH HACKETT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE: I don't know whether it's working statistically.

What he's doing is expressing a sense of mercy, a sense of compassion, a true Gospel love. And he's playing it out. He's talking the talk and walking the walk. I mean, he does things in a very real way. And you see it in his Wednesday audiences. You see it in the people he meets.

TAPPER: You sound like you like him as much as people who only see him from afar and like him.

HACKETT: I like him.

TAPPER: You like him a lot.

HACKETT: He is what he is. And you read his biographies and you find a whole history that he's gone through in Argentina and the suffering he had, how he dealt with very, very complicated matters. Now he takes over the Vatican and the Catholic Church. It's a little bit complicated.

TAPPER: You're going to be at the White House for the pope's meetings there. What's going to happen in those meetings?

HACKETT: First of all, he will have a one-on-one meeting with President Obama.

And, obviously, the president's going to say to him, well, Holy Father, how was Cuba? That's probably where they're going to start. And then they may get into other issues about persecution of Christians in the world, collaboration on climate issues, probably just peace, what can be done for peace and overcoming situations of poverty and inequity in the world.

TAPPER: What are you anticipating he's going to say when he addresses Congress? You have already heard some criticism of the pope from some politicians. They think that he's too liberal on some issues.

HACKETT: Well, first of all, I don't think he really cares. He says what he feels. He says what he feels very deeply.

I think he will talk about issues of migration, exclusion of people, people who fall through the cracks, poverty. I think he will call Congress and the American people to relive, recapture or reinvigorate the values that make our nation so great. And that will be splendid.


TAPPER: I'm really looking forward to it. What a treat to have you here today. Thank you so much, Kenneth Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

I hope that you have an amazing week.

HACKETT: Thank you. I will.

TAPPER: I know you will. I know you will.

The NYPD commissioner is calling the pope's trip to New York later this week the biggest security challenge New York City has ever faced. So what is the main potential threat? The former NYPD Chief Ray Kelly will tell me here live next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The national lead now, when Pope Francis visits New York later this week, he will be joined by nearly 200 world leaders. They will be in town for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Police Commissioner William Bratton calls it the largest security challenge the city has ever faced.

Joining me now is Bratton's predecessor, Ray Kelly. He's out with a new book, "Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City."


Mr. Commissioner, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it.


TAPPER: You were commissioner when Pope Benedict visited New York in 2008. What are preparations like? Pretty intense, I would think.

KELLY: They are. You have to go back, take some things off the shelf. Other popes have visited New York, but obviously today or this week, it's compounded by the U.N. General Assembly, as you said.

You're going to have over 200 delegations there. And the pope himself, of course, is very mobile, extremely popular. You called him -- has a lot of star power, I think, in your run-up. It's going to be a huge challenge for security.

TAPPER: He likes to mingle. He likes to get out there and he likes to touch people. That's got to be really challenging if you're law enforcement.

KELLY: He's a walker. Yes.

There's only so much you can do. The pope is in charge. He wants to go someplace, he's going to go. But, obviously, you have to do as much as you can to sort of wall him off, if he's willing to have that happen.

TAPPER: So, in your book, you describe a number of foiled terror plots in New York City. It obviously only takes one to succeed. That's the thing about law enforcement and national security officials. You can have 3,000 successes and you have one failure.

KELLY: Right.

TAPPER: How do you make sure that one doesn't succeed? What's the secret?

KELLY: Look, you do everything you reasonably can do.

There is no secret. New York is an open city, 10 million people a day during a workday. So you do everything you possibly can, but there's no guarantees. We live in a dangerous world and New York devotes over 1,000 police officers every day to counterterrorism operations, work closely with the federal departments, but there are no guarantees.

TAPPER: I'm wondering, when you hear this language from the campaign trail about Muslims that seems to otherize them, whether it's coming from people at a town hall or whomever, does that make your job as a law enforcement official, as somebody who wants to work with the Muslim community, does it make it tougher, does it make it easier, is there an effect at all?

KELLY: I think you have to think about it, sort of have to put it into the equation.

I think there's a lot of meetings going on now with members of the Muslim community throughout the country. Law enforcement is trying to get closer. But it's debatable as to whether or not these things impact on a relationship. But there is definitely a major effort to get close to the Muslim community and other communities as well. That's what policing these days is all about.

TAPPER: Your book offers a very robust defense of stop and frisk, which obviously the current mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has reined in. He says that the tactic unfairly targets minorities.

This is obviously a tense time for police and minority communities. How do you argue that it doesn't unfairly target minorities?

KELLY: Well, there's a study that shows that it doesn't.

We submitted it to a court. The judge would not accept it in the most recent case. But it is something that comes from the common law. It's codified in a Supreme Court case, Terry vs. Ohio. It is on every -- on the books in every state in the union. It's something that saves lives.

In the Bloomberg administration -- I'm not saying it's a be-all and end-all, but in the Bloomberg administration, we had 9,500 fewer murders than the 12 years previously. The vast majority of those lives saved are young men of color because that's who's getting shot on the streets of our city.

So I think it's a valuable tool. It's something that has to be in the toolbox for all police officers. Obviously, we don't want it to be abused. We don't believe it was abused in New York City.

TAPPER: Is New York City less safe because they're not doing it?

KELLY: Probably. Yes, we need a little more time to see how it works out. Shootings are up. Murders are up. I think it will play out. If we stay in this posture, it's going to play out where violence will continue to go up.

TAPPER: Former New York City police Commissioner Ray Kelly, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck with the book. It's called "Vigilance."

KELLY: Thank you very, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

Coming up, U.S. soldiers say they were basically told to look the other way after witnessing atrocities committed by the Afghan commanders they had trained and were working with, that story next.

Plus, the mother of the toddler found dead in Boston Harbor, she faces a judge, accused of covering up her murder, but the little girl's biological father is defending her. What did he say? Coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the National Lead, a sense of sadness at the White House today, workers there are mourning the loss of a staffer who was tragically killed over the weekend.

Jacob Brewer was killed during a charity bicycle ride for cancer Saturday in Maryland. He was hit by a car when his bike crossed over into oncoming traffic.

President Obama said in a statement, quote, "Simply put, Jake was one of the best, armed with a brilliant mind, big heart and insatiable desire to give back. Jake devoted his life to empowering people and making government work better for them."

His wife is a conservative political writer and posted a heartbreaking Instagram message calling her husband's life powerful, tender, and fierce." Jacob Brewer was 34 years old. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary Katherine and her family at this time.

Turning to our Buried Lead now, when I was researching my book "The Outpost," about the war in Afghanistan, one officer told me the story of a Navy physician assistant who was treating infections resulting from the rampant sexual abuse and rape of young boys in Afghanistan by Afghan men.

This alleged abuse would take place in villages on Thursday nights before the Muslim Holy Friday. And now we're just learning more about just how rampant this abuse is amidst allegations the U.S. military ordered U.S. service members to intentionally look the other way.


TAPPER (voice-over): They're called dancing boys, tea boys or by many who have had to turn a blind eye to them, Afghan sex slaves. A subculture of boy play is widely known in Afghanistan, but for U.S. service members there the abuse of these children is infuriatingly hard to stop, especially when the abuse comes from American-backed Afghan commanders there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I had a boy because every commander had one.

TAPPER: In a 2010 PBS documentary, a former Afghan commander of the Northern Alliance spoke openly, shamelessly about this sick practice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I didn't have a boy. I couldn't compete with the others.

[16:50:06] TAPPER: Today the "New York Times" reports that the American military stands accused of ordering troops to purposely turn a blind eye to the abuse in order to maintain good relations with afghan forces.

DAN QUINN, CAPTAIN, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): The reason we weren't able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn't want to undermine the authority of the local government. We were trying to build up the local government. U.S. acting after the local government fails to could certainly undermine their credibility.

TAPPER: Retired U.S. Army Captain Dan Quinn tells CNN that he and Sergeant First Class Charles Martlin (ph) were punished for confronting an admitted Afghan child rapist, a police commander.

QUINN: The confrontation turned physical, I picked him up and threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing. He basically had to fully understand when he went near that boy or his mother again there would be hell to pay.

TAPPER: And he tells CNN that he and Martlin were relieved of their duties shortly after that confrontation. Martlin is being involuntarily discharged by the Army next month.

JESSICA STERN, TERRORISM EXPERT: I think the fear is that if we were to intervene we wouldn't have the kind of close working relationship that we need with Afghan military.

TAPPER: Terrorism expert, Jessica Stern says this is far from an isolated incident. She's spoken to several service members who say they were disturbed by what they saw.

STERN: They must have felt that they couldn't respond in the way they would have liked to. It was clearly a very painful subject.

TAPPER: Congressman and veteran, Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California is trying to save Martlin's career writing to Defense Secretary Carter, quote, "Martlin stood up to a child rapist, I trust you will give this case the attention it demands."

A Pentagon spokesperson told CNN we have never had a policy in place that directs any military member or any government personnel overseas to ignore human rights abuses. Any sexual abuse is completely unacceptable and reprehensible.


TAPPER: Coming up, bail set at $1 million for the mother of Baby Bella, a toddler found dead in Boston harbor. That little girl's biological father was in court today to face her alleged killer. That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We have some tragic news in our National Lead. New details today about the death of 2-year-old Bella Bond, who for months was known only as Baby Doe, this morning Bella's mother, Rachelle Bond and her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, pleaded not guilty on charges related to her murder.

The toddler's body was of course found on a Boston beach back in June. Prosecutors alleged that McCarthy beat the 2-year-old little girl because he believed she was possessed by the devil.

Let's bring in CNN's Jean Casarez who has been following the case. Jean, the state prosecutor laid out the rather horrific treatment Bella was subjected to today.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extremely graphic. Now today was the initial appearance for this couple, but also the bail hearing. The prosecutor has to show the strength of their case how horrendous this situation was in regard to bail and prosecutors believe they did just that.


CASAREZ (voice-over): Rachelle Bond, the mother of Bella Bond, and her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, listened from behind glass as the prosecutor described in graphic detail what they believed happened during the final moments of Bella's short life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bella was unwilling to go to bed and was unruly. Mr. McCarthy said if you go into her back bedroom and try to calm her down. She found Mr. McCarthy standing over Bella and when Ms. Bond looked at Bella her head appeared to be swollen and face was gray.

CASAREZ: Bond told police she knew then her daughter was dead. But it was McCarthy she said who put the body in a trash bag and stored it in the refrigerator trying to justify the toddler's death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said she was a demon anyway. It was her time to die.

CASAREZ: Prosecutors said in court a long-time friend of McCarthy who had stayed with the couple while Bella was alive witnessed appalling treatment, yelling and being locked into a room for up to an hour because the couple believed she was possessed.

Later the couple allegedly went to Boston harbor where McCarthy put weights in the bag and deposited the child in the water. Bond is now facing the charge of accessory after the fact and McCarthy facing murder. Both pleaded not guilty.

Bella was born in 2012. And that same year the Massachusetts Department of Children and families opened up an investigation into the neglect of Bella. Telling CNN, DCF determined neglect was involved. Services were provided and we eventually closed the case.

The following year 2013, another DCF investigation into the neglect of Bella, it too was closed. In April of 2014 but in unrelated matters the head of Massachusetts DCF resigned, a year after stepping into the position and after three children died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My confidence in that whole organization has been rattled.

CASAREZ: About one year later Bella was dead. Attorneys for her mother and boyfriend telling different stories after court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is shocked and saddened by the death of Bella Bond, but he did not kill her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wants to see Mr. McCarthy pay for what he did.


CASAREZ: So the boyfriend, the attorney is saying that he didn't do it. It is the mother of Bella, we believe, that allegedly told this whole story to police which now they formed as the basis of their case. Prosecutors admitting that it's five days into their investigation.

The next hearing's October 20th. Do they have the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the participation of the boyfriend? Cause of death not determines.

TAPPER: All right, Jean Casarez, thanks so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.